Wednesday, October 25, 2006

La Isla Bonita with the Chavez.

You have to be ready for an adventure like this. If you are a city guy/gal, perhaps you won't enjoy a trip to this island of no electricty. But let me tell you that I was amazed at how I was able to stay for 3 days and 2 nights in this very romantic hideaway without a honey. It was hard I tell you, but I got through it somehow.

First, I went with good friends. The Chavez' invited me to go with them and with their friends, we were all of 23 people and since they know the owner, Ann Saldana, we had the island all to ourselves. It was quiet, peaceful and most importantly, CLEAN!!!

Secondly, I was assigned my very own yaya (nanny) because Ann could tell that I am no backpacker. She was a little scary at first. But when she carried my bags to my room like it was made out of chicken feathers, I suddenly felt like she can protect me from all the evil spirits and insects that might harm me. She was strong and proved it by moving my bed around because it was too hot and placed it out in the balcony all by herself. Being spoiled that I am, I just stood, watched and almost applauded when she finally did it. The breeze helped me sleep better the second night. Of course one must be covered with insect repellant and a bottle of water at bedside before sleeping. Waking in the middle of the night is not fun because it is so dark out and you can hear all kinds of insects and reptiles lurking around.

Third, the comfort of food took away the necessity for a lover. We had heavy breakfast with all the favorite dishes Filipino can think of. Tocino, salted egg, omelette and salad and others that only my stomach can remember but all meals, including lunch and dinner are served with a huge, gigantic fresh fish. Thinking about it now makes me so angry that i didnt get to take photos so that I can show you exactly what I mean. If you are on a diet, skip this trip because you will be fed like there's no tomorrow.

Fourth, since the beach front is shallow, Ann has her own boat that will take you to deeper waters where you can just jump off the boat and swim wherever you wish. The boat is once again, CLEAN and has cushions that you can sunbathe on if you decide to stay on the boat instead. And until I lose all the flab in my tummy, for sure you wont get to see a picture of me sunbathing. HAHA....

And lastly, before I head out to the pool to get even more sun, I have to tell you again that the company is what mattered most. Annabelle, one of my best friends in the world made sure that i was welcome and was comfortable with her family and friends. I was a newcomer to this group but they surely didn't make me feel like I was. So thanks again Bel for making this city girl taste what it's like to be Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon, minus the lover and giving birth on the island.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Trip to Vienna, Austria

I have one word for Vienna, Austria. F A B U L O U S!!

This was actually our last stop before Steffie and I had to go to Amsterdam for our flight home to Manila. But boy, I am so glad that we decided to go to Vienna even if we had luggage that weighed a ton and a half to lug around. It was simply breathtaking, and to think, we only had time to see 1 place, which is called Schonbrunn. There is a cafe on top a hill that Steffie and I climbed despite our aching bodies. As flippers (Filipino), we decided to take the long route up and make a wish as soon as we get to the top and hope for the best. We are superstitous that way.

We felt, acted, looked and pretended to be rich so we had a drink and something to bite in the very expensive cafe. We are Asians in the land of the Whiteys so we made sure that we were not mistaken as some maids on their day off. As always, I had lipstick on which can prove to the Austrians that asians with lipstick can be pretty dangerous.

The view was fantastic. As you can very well see in my photos, one can't help but be amazed at how beautiful the world can be if only we manicured our lawns, pick up our trash, plant some trees and flowering plants, keep the air clean, obey and respect rules and have gorgeous women like Steffie and I roam around freely with pocket money of about 1,000 euro each.

Anyway, back to Earth, this place we went to also had a zoo right next to it and Steffie and I, being animal lovers decided that it was something that paying 6 euro was worth. We wanted to very much see whales and dolphins and giraffes and lions but I was a bit disappointed when all we saw were some nasty penguins (they were doing IT, see photo as proof), pelicans, crocodiles, lizards, bears, turtles (which probably came from the here), fox and bats. I later on changed my mind about my 6 euros. What a waste. I see more animals in my household everyday! Pigs, cows, rats, dogs, snakes...oh wait, those are all the people I work with. Except mom and dad of course. Can't piss them off, they are the bosses of me.

One more reason why I love Austria so much is because they know how to appreciate beauty. Steffie and I were walking back to our hotel, but with Steffie's long legs, she was 10 steps ahead of me when this tall woman came up to me and stopped me on the middle of the sidewalk. Wait, let me describe to you how this lady looked like. She was dressed in white pants, white top and white jacket. She had on black patent shoes which was obviously Chanel and black purse to match it, as well as Chanel sunglasses which stood out against her platinum white hair and red lipstick (told you lipstick is a weapon). She was about 60 yrs old and very slim and practically had a sign on her forehead saying "I am a millionaire, stand back and let me through you peasant!" Very admirable in my book.

Anyway, she stopped me and said with her rich Austrian accent, "Excuse me, but where are you from?" I was thinking, "Oh no, she needs a maid and wants to hire me." I told her I was from Manila, Philippines. And then (are you sitting down?) she says to me, "My goodness, women from the Philippines are so beautiful!" I know, I know...I can't help these things from happening but think of it this way, I represented the Filipina and thanks to me, I have just put us on a pedestal.

Of course I am telling you this story not because it is the first time it happened to me (because it happens almost everyday, ahem ahem) but because this was, for me, the ultimate compliment. When a woman, a stranger that's oozing with confidence, class and wealth stops you on the middle of the sidewalk just to tell you how pretty you are, you can just leave everything behind and become an illegal alien in Austria. Imagine, if this woman thinks you are hot, what about what men think? Hmmmm????

But seriously, if you are planning to take a European vacation, visit Vienna, wear lipstick, skip the zoo, pretend you are rich, wish when you get to the top of the hill, and hope for the best.

St. Peter's Basilica, Rome and why we couldnt go in.

It wasn't because Steffie and I are evil. Of course we have done things in the past that may constitute as evil but I don't think that they are so bad that the Church doors would mistake us as 2 witches. Although I must admit, we are bewitching gals but that's about all the witchcraft we can handle.

It was our last day in Italy before we had to leave for Austria. We took the earliest train to Rome and as soon as we got off the taxi, I started walking towards the church only to find Steffie sitting on a nearby bench looking really disturbed. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that the taxi driver jipped her 20 euros.

Now, it might not be a lot to you folks living in Europe (you know who you are) but to us Flippers, 20 euros can already buy us the ff:

1. Bottomless ice tea at Marina - P50.00
2. Halo-halo at The Peninsula - P310.00
3. Sunglasses in Divisoria - P200.00
4. DVD, 16 movies in 1 disc - P80.00
5. Bathing suit in Greenhills - P400.00
6. Pedicure at Emphasis - P335.00
7. Small slurpee at 7-11 - P5.00

There you go! All those things that Steffie could have gotten, all down the drain. What a shame! Guess she forgot to wear lipstick that day. Going back to my story, if we were indeed witches, Steffie would have casted a spell on the taxi driver and turned him to escargot.

Now, the reason we weren't able to go inside the church was because we had 3 hours to spare in Rome and the line was about 3 miles long. All we could do is take pictures of the magnificent structures and scultptures of the richest Church in the world.

Guards in security golf cars would roam around the grounds and reprimand those who were misbehaving. In the fountain located at the center, we saw 2 boys almost swimming in it. They were drenched and splashing water everywhere. They got sooo busted! I say, don't mess with the Italians. They might talk your ear off.

Because groceries, giftshops and malls are amongst our favorite places, we spent about an hour at the souveneir store deciding whether buying a rosary there would make us more holy or if a pin with the photo of the Pope would take us straight to heaven when we go. I wanted to buy one for my Lola (Grandmother) who is a devout Catholic, but after a lot of thought, I decided that it would be useless to give my Lola one because she has about 2,000 rosaries and 800 Holy Bible in her house. Another one from me would be overdoing it. So in the end, I didn't get to buy a single thing. It was a lot to think about and my brain got tired. Religion can be very confusing and misleading and I believe that having faith in God and not being a witch will take me to heaven when my time comes.

Beam me up Scotty!


FYI, the last line is a famous line from Star Trek.